[Advaita-l] Brahma Sutra-supreme brahman

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 5 21:02:49 CDT 2004

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:


>  Note that the specific
> phrase
> is not viShnoH padaM but viShnoH _paramaM_ padaM.  The dwelling of
> Vishnu
> can be Naraka (with Bali in chaturmasa), or Vaikuntha but the
> "highest"
> dwelling is Moksha.  The Bhamatikara also emphasizes that this phrase
> refers to Moksha not some intermediate place.  The rgvedic sukta I
> mentioned treats the course of the Sun (sunrise, noon, and sunset) as
> the
> three steps and three dwelling places of Vishnu.  It is from the
> highest
> place that He brings down the madhu/soma.

I can understand that the "highest place of VishhNu" is mukti, which is
nirguNa Brahman. However:


> In the bhashya itself, Shankaracharya considers the world of saguna
> Brahman to be the world of Hiranyagarbha or Brahma.

Are you saying that saguNa Brahman is essentially BrahmA =
hiraNyagarbha? What about VishhNu in vaikuNTha or Shiva in KailAsa, are
they not saguNa forms of Brahman? I don't have exact references with
me, but I'm certain several advaitins (such as appayya dIkshita) have
written about VishhNu as saguNa Brahman. Even the advaita-VedAnta
homepage FAQ at http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ad_faq.html says:

"...vishNu, Siva, Sakti, gaNapati and sUrya are worshipped as forms of
saguNa brahman."

> This is
> contrasted
> with the highest place of Vishnu.  Could this reflect some ancient
> sectarian rivalry?  The Samkhya/Yogis preferred to refer to Ishvara
> as
> Hiranyagarbha.  Kapila Muni was said to be the avatar or son of
> Hiranyagarbha.
> Shankaracharya was a bitter critic of Samkhya/Yoga
> doctrines, did he perhaps consider the worship of Vishnu to be more
> Vedic?

I believe there are as many (if not more) prayers in the Vedas to
prajApati-alias-HiraNyagarbha as there are to VishhNu, so there can be
no question of one worship being "more Vedic" than the other.

OTOH, here are some speculations:

Since HiraNyagarbha-worship is only in the Karma-KANDa portion of the
Vedas, it MAY be that ONLY Vedic ritualistic worship of
HiraNyagarbha(=saguNa Brahman) leads to krama-mukti. Is this why
smArtas do not worship BrahmA in the temples -- because
HiraNyagarbha-worship should not be non-Vedic (since temple worship is
not purely Vedic)?


> It seems unlikely due to the fact that his opposition to the
> Bhagavatas,
> Vaishnavas though they may be, was partially on the grounds that they
> were
> not Vedic.  Also there is shastric support for saying that Kapila was
> an
> avatar of Vishnu Bhagavan.  Rather I think we have to look at another
> shastraic story.  Brahma is said to be born at the beginning of
> creation
> from a lotus growing from the navel of anantashayi Vishnu Bhagavan. 
> This
> can be a metaphor for how Nirguna Brahman "produces" Saguna Brahman
> who is
> the "golden womb" (hiranyagarbha) of creation.  All this talk of
> saguna vs nirguna Brahman  shouldn't lead us to think they are two
> seperate entities.  Just as when sannyasis use the greeting om namo
> narayana
> the usage of narayana doesn't refer to the husband of Shri who
> carries
> shanka, chakra, gada, padma etc., Bhagavan shouldn't imply any
> limited
> entity.  It's a matter of context.  I suppose I should have been more
> explicit to avoid confusion though.
> -- 
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
> It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/
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